Scotland – 6 – Royal & Ancient
We had a good trip between Grantown-on-Spey and our next site at Forfar. There was a 30minute section on an A road which further south would have been a B road but I fell back on my “this too will pass” mantra and we arrived with no problems in Forfar. No problems but in the pouring rain that had accompanied us since leaving that morning. We picked our spot and unhitched in the pouring rain. Wettest we have been.
Using our newly acquired National Trust Scotland membership we went to the House of Dun. A Georgian country home only a few miles away. The weather was unexpectedly hot and cloudy bright. Luckily I had swapped my jumper for a teeshirt just before we headed out otherwise I would have been far too hot. We took the tour of the house with the NT guide which was informative and interesting. This house also had a walled garden but not as impressive as Ballindaloch Castle, nice though.
We drove into Montrose and down to the seafront. However we couldn’t get on to the beach as although the tide was out and the sand showing, there was a huge “river” left at the bottom of the steps from the promenade which was impossible to cross. It was no wonder they were flying a 2019 “best beach” flag. No-one can get on it to mess it up. We also went to Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre. Loads of information and a fab room which was set up as in a 1940’s home and a room with displays and stories on the local girls who married American airmen. I love displays like this; a bit of social history. Montrose was the location for Great Britain’s first operational military airfield which was established by the Royal Flying Corps in February 1913.
When we set out to Tentsmuir Forest it had been raining hard. Coats, boots and long trousers were the order of the day. However, Scottish weather again ignored its forecast and within 20 minutes we were showing 20degrees, there was no wind and it was very warm walking from the Forest to the beach. We had a bit of a wander up the beach and Neil reminisced about his time spent at Leuchars RAF Base during the heatwave (a proper one; not just 2 consecutive days) in 1976.
The town of St Andrews was very pleasant. Plenty of tourists, students/those associated with the University and golfers. For a very prosperous town I was annoyed at having to pay 30p to go the loo. Not just that but the fact that out of all the public toilets I’ve been to during our trip they were by far the dirtiest/untidiest. Wet floors, paper on the floors and sink areas and overflowing bins. I revert you back to my previous posts on Community toilets. The local council here should be ashamed and embarrassed asking people to pay for facilities that are not clean. I know people will say well if you went into a cafe/bar you could have used the toilets there. Yes, but we purchased our food and drinks from an independent bakers (that had the Royal Warrant) and, as a takeout, no toilets provided. I know I’m ranting but people in town are likely to be spending money in the shops and take out places and may need facilities and should not have to pay. By the way we had to choose who went to the loo as we only had 30p in change – me obvs.
Back to St Andrews as a town – lovely. The sunshine helped and we heard many different accents and interesting conversations. I’m assuming we overheard an American professional discussing with a colleague how to set up a study for young children to be able to articulate their preference in something or other using puppets – very random. We walked down to the iconic Royal and Ancient Clubhouse and watched a group finishing off their round at the 18th, literally a few feet in front of the public footpath – no pressure there to not make a fool of yourself! A walk around the sea front past the castle to the old cathedral and an ice cream cone in the sun added to our trip to the seaside. As we left we drove down a street with a Mac* store and a Jo Malone** store. Summed up St Andrews really – prosperous.
On our final day we visited the birthplace of JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, among many other novels and plays. Another National Trust property – making the most of our membership.
In the afternoon we walked into the town of Forfar. No Mac or Jo Malone store here. Pleasant enough town if a bit spread out. Plenty of independent shops and only a handful of empty units.
On our last night in Forfar I had a glass of pink Prosecco to toast our tour of Scotland, which I had thoroughly enjoyed as we were heading back to England. Turns out I was a bit premature with that toast.
*high end cosmetic store **high end candles & scents